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A Story of Sex and Death on the Internet: Anyone You Want to Be (Book Review)

Updated on February 14, 2018
MSantana profile image

She loves to write about science, the natural world and peoples questions about life. She has degrees in Biology, botany and Ecology.

These figures are the ghosts of many lost women and was inspired by the book--and my studies of wetlands. Where are the disappeared ones? Search in the water and the bushes...
These figures are the ghosts of many lost women and was inspired by the book--and my studies of wetlands. Where are the disappeared ones? Search in the water and the bushes... | Source

Review by Mirna Santana

John Douglas and Stephen Singular wrote a story about online dating-and how criminals and predators find their victims in online dating sites. Their book described the first case of an online serial murder. Unfortunately these type of stories have become more common. The authors give the reader a profile of a criminal mind. A must read for those looking to find a sexual partner or online match, and for those curious about the human mind. You will definitively get insights about the psychology/pshyche of serial killer.

Online dating is more popular than anybody would have imagined. This popularity gives opportunities to all sort of people to search for online mates. Online dating, however, brings in new challenges and a whole different set of skills. People need to learn how to recognize and avoid the John Robertsons and Phillip Markoffs of the world, who seek out their victims online. While the former are extreme cases; other dangerous folks still prey upon incautious people. This is exactly what John Robertson, the first internet killer did. John Douglas and Stephen Singular chronicled his whereabouts in the book 'Anyone You Want To Be'.

The book recounts how Robertson changed from a petty thief that mainly committed financial scams into a serial killer. Over a period of 15 years, Robertson lured and killed seven women. But within that time, he also convinced many other women to become involved in sexual relationships with him. In many cases those relationships were sadistic-masochistic.

The ways he attracted women were as diverse as the women themselves. He dated highly educated sophisticated women, young poor girls, disabled women, and women of all sort of shapes and ethnical backgrounds. The FBI profilers suspected that all he wanted was to become better and better at his trade.

When he discovered the web in the 90s, he discovered a new niche full of opportunities. He was able to find women looking for the excitement of new experiences, money, and romantic relationships. He told the women what they wanted to hear. He was skillful at it. He showed them support when they were vulnerable. He specially focused on emotional or economically deprived women, because they were most easily manipulated.

One of his most successful ways to captivate women was to convince them that he was the person they were seeking. He could do that because he knew a lot about human psychology. He learned from the women themselves about their needs. Beyond that, he used his clever mind to convince them that he could provide whatever they needed. After, he had seduced them, he convinced them to sign blank documents in an effort to increase his power over them. The same types of tactics served him to hide what he had done, because there was no evidence the women had disappeared.

When the women no longer served his plans, he literally disposed of them. For some women that meant death. In most cases, that also meant a violent death.

He would store their bodies in large tank containers. Some bodies were stored for many years before the police finally found them. He was an organized criminal but at some point he lost track even of his own system.

The authors recommended web users to protect themselves and their children from criminal minds. In the book, they mentioned several agencies that work with crime prevention. The Internet Crime Complaint Center is one of those Agencies, where people can submit a complaint. But the web, they said, changes so fast that it makes it difficult to track online criminals. Thus, a lot of responsibility about personal security falls into the hands of web users.

The authors also told readers that it is hard to predict people’s behaviors. Many of the women involved in these cases were independent, smart, and resourceful. They, however, became victims of a skillful manipulator of minds. All internet users must be therefore aware of where they are standing up. The tactics used by a Robinson to scam and murder people are the same used by many other types of internet criminals.

This book is fascinating in terms of the stories, the criminal minds, and the implications for laws and regulations.

© 2009 MSantana


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    • MSantana profile image

      MSantana 8 years ago from Madison Wisconsin

      Sometimes I have to drag myself to complete a book. And many other times, I just read the most interesting sections of a book and skim read through the rest. But, this book by Douglas and Singular, which I read months ago, kept me wanting to read more. I encourage other women to read this book.

      My humble appreciation to my friends P.C. Lee and D.F.Brown for reading the drafts. I am even more grateful to them for their suggestions, which clearly improved this piece.